The Walking Dead fans expect tonight’s 90 minute Episode 604: “Here’s Not Here,” to answer the burning question that all stunned TWD viewers have debated for a week. Is Glenn really dead? Sure, Morgan is a fan favorite and learning how his past may haunt him is important, but closure for a fan favorite’s possible death is paramount for diehard fans.
Let’s hope good things come to those who wait! Morgan’s narrative unfolds as he shares his evolution with the Wolf he once met in the woods. It is his attempt to save the villain. Episode 604 begins with Morgan descending further into madness, using blood to paint clear, pointless acts, here’s not here on on stones around his camp’s perimeter.
The Walking Dead continues in a more artistic direction with the modest use of a fisheye lens during the flashback sequence. The fisheye lens with its distorted edges help emphasize Morgan’s corrupt perspective. The effect is used whenever Morgan is violent.
When Morgan’s madness peaks, he encounters a stranger who, like Morgan in “JSS,” apologizes before subduing him. This is not the only phrase Morgan borrows from the strange. The stranger, Eastman – a former Forensic Psychiatrist – feeds Morgan, speaks to him civilly, and gives him a book, The Art of Peace. Morgan watches Eastman practice Aikido from his cell window, a technique to redirect an opponent’s force.
Flourishes of humor continue to ease some of the mounting tension this season. When Morgan responds, “Kill me!” to Eastman’s attempt to learn Morgan’s name, Eastman tells him to change his stupid name. His playful banter does not immediately disarm Morgan. Morgan is, at that point, Hell bent on “clearing.”
His kill first, ask questions later to survive philosophy rings is reminiscent of Carol, who surely suffers PTSD after losing her daughter and killing Lindsay. Perhaps that’s why Carol’s behavior horrifies him– it reminds him of who he was. Is there any chance Carol will experience a Morgan style transformation? Will she let Morgan be her Eastman?
Eastman helps Morgan understand his PTSD and tells him he can stay with him or leave, but Eastman will not allow Morgan to kill him. In Season 5, “Conquer,” Morgan uses the same line on the Wolf who accosts him. Naturally, the still traumatized Morgan attempts to attack Eastman, cue fisheye lens, but Eastman spares Morgan his life as Morgan raises his hands in surrender and starts to weep. His desperation is heartbreaking.
In a show of trust, Eastman entrusts Morgan with the care of Tabitha (his goat). When Tabitha is threatened, Morgan springs into action. There is something reluctant about his defense, though– he seems to almost regret killing the two walkers.
Morgan then buries the two walkers, a sign of respect. Eastman does him one better by finding one of the walker’s identification to honor the person the walker once was– a move similar to Rick, who in Season 1 promised to remember Wayne Dunlap before slathering himself in Wayne’s guts. Morgan’s healing has begun.
Later Eastman shares a horrifying pre- apocalyptic tale of Crighton Dallas Wilton, a prisoner who escaped with the express purpose of murdering Eastman’s family after Eastman foils Crighton’s parole. And he did. Eastman explains that the jail he built in his cabin was meant for Crighton- to watch him starve to death. Somehow, despite his up close encounter with evil and injustice, he believes all life is precious- another sentiment Morgan mimics in “Conquer.”
An hour into the episode it is clear why Morgan honors Eastman. It seems Morgan’s past has a habit of coming back to haunt him. Earlier in the episode, Morgan, for no reason, murders two men, and he later mourns his actions with Eastman. When Morgan and Eastman are away from the cabin, Eastman tells Morgan it’s his turn to handle an approaching walker.
Morgan freezes because the walker is none other than one of the men he murdered. Eastman steps in and is consequently bitten.It gets worse- poor Tabitha, too, is mauled by a walker. Just when it seems Morgan will once again lose his grip, he takes responsibility for his action. As Eastman succumbs to the infection, he makes a confession- he did kill Crighton. He, like Morgan, was broken after watching the man starve to death over 47 days. From that moment on, he swore never to kill again.
Rick is currently living Morgan’s past while Morgan is doing his best to live like Eastman. Rick is not quite mad, but he’s close to the edge. How long will it be until Rick breaks? It seems the crucible of Michonne and Morgan is to experience some form of spiritual, emotional death before they achieve redemption. Michonne and Morgan are arguably the two most evolved characters in the series and they likely owe that to their suffering and the kindness of strangers. When will Rick and Carol experience their awakening?
As Morgan concludes his narrative, it is clear the Wolf is determined not to change. Is the Wolf more like Morgan or like Crighton? Will Morgan remain merciful even after the Wolf promised to kill every Alexandrian, even the children?
The episode ends with Morgan, disconcerted, locking the Wolf into a house– in the distance a man’s voice screams, “Open the Gates!” Who is howling at the gates? Is it Rick, who perhaps escaped the camper before the walkers closed in? Could it be Glenn, who miraculously escaped the ravenous herd?
While fans didn’t get the answers they desired this episode, the tight narrative structure and compelling story proved satisfying. What did you think of tonight’s episode? Please leave your questions and insights in the comment section.